PAINESVILLE, Ohio – The Lake Erie College women's basketball team clinched the final spot in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday (Feb. 24) afternoon with an 87-64 victory over the Malone University Pioneers on Senior Day.
This is the second time since the Storm joined Division II that they are playoff bound. The first berth came in the 2011-12 season as part of the GLIAC.
Kayla Gabor (Mentor, Ohio / Mentor) scored the first eight points of the game as Lake Erie led 8-0 four minutes in. Malone responded with an 8-2 run as they trimmed the deficit to two with 3:50 left in the quarter. After Farrah Benner (Brunswick, Ohio / Brunswick) stopped the run with a three pointer, Malone got back-to-back three pointers as they gained a 14-13 lead. Benner scored six of the next eight points as Lake Erie used an 8-0 run for a 21-14 lead with one minute remaining. The Storm led 21-17 after one quarter.
Malone scored the first two points of the second quarter before Lake Erie followed with a 12-0 rally. Gabor and Ashley West (Willoughby Hills, Ohio / Cornerstone Christian) each scored four points as the Storm's lead grew to 33-20 with 5:29 left. The teams went back and forth over the last five minutes as Lake Erie took a 42-32 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Each team matched baskets as Malone chipped away at the lead. Malone cut the lead to six with a three pointer and then Josie Chaddock (Minerva, Ohio / Minerva) converted a three point play. After a Pioneers basket, Benner scored the next five points as Lake Erie expanded the lead to 57-45 with 4:20 left. Malone trimmed the lead to seven as Lake Erie led 63-56 going to the fourth quarter.
Jordan Joseph (Solon, Ohio / Solon) opened the fourth quarter with four straight points for a 67-56 advantage. Malone pulled within eight until Lake Erie went on a 12-0 run that sealed the game. Four different players added points as the Storm pushed the lead to 21 with 1:16 remaining. Benner had five points and Gabor added four on the run. Lake Erie clinched the playoff spot with an 87-64 victory.
Gabor led the Storm with 22 points on in her last regular season contest as she made nine field goals. She also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Benner tied a career-high with 21 points, including five three pointers. Lee Lee Barrett (Chattanooga, Tenn. / Ooltewah) set a career-high with ten points. Dawson scored six points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
Lake Erie forced Malone into 17 turnovers and the Storm shot 50% (36-72) from the floor in the game.
The Storm will play Cedarville in the first round of the G-MAC Tournament on Thursday (March 1) at a time to be determined.